The Fear Street Trilogy, based on the legendary YA horror fiction novels written by R.L. Stine, is about to debut, starting with Fear Street Part 1: 1994. The slasher film is set in, you’ll never guess, 1994, when a group of teenagers discover that the horrifying events that have occurred in Shadyside, Ohio might be connected. What's more, they may be the next targets after the curse on the town resurfaces. Directed by Leigh Janiak, the horror flick features Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Maya Hawke, Fred Hechinger, and Ashley Zukerman, with a script co-written by Phil Graziadei and Janiak.
It was announced last summer that the entire trilogy would be headed to Netflix, where Fear Street Part 1: 1994 will be released this Friday, July 2, and the remaining two movies the following two weeks. Critics have started releasing their reviews of the first installment, so let’s take a look.
Our very own Mike Reyes rated the film a 4.5 out of 5 stars. He really enjoyed the movie, praising the balance of impressive violence that sets the tone for the entire trilogy and the intriguing story line that makes you really care about the characters. Reyes especially commended Janiak’s dedication to take the story into a more mature direction. Overall, he said:
Promising 'the movie event of the summer,' Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a strong opener that shows the odds are in the favor of that claim being proven absolutely accurate.
Peter Debruge of Variety liked the slasher film a little less than Reyes. He appreciated the diversity of the cast, but criticized the plot for it’s “sketchy” logic and considered it not terribly compelling. Debruge said:
Fear Street may look like countless horror movies that have come before, but it’s desperately trying to be original, and that may pay off in the two installments to come… It’s all intended to tie together, although there will be plenty who see Fear Street as a dead end from the outset. Only time will tell.
Amelia Emberwing from WhatToWatch commended the LGBTQ representation of the film and noted that the entire ensemble “crushed it,” but gave a special shout-out to Flores Jr. as Josh. She also applauded the originality of the flick and the nostalgia it evokes. Emberwing really enjoyed the movie, saying:
What I can confirm is that Fear Street Part 1 feels fresh as hell and it’s an absolute blast to watch.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire was not super impressed with Fear Street Part 1: 1994. He criticized the writing of the supporting characters, though he did applaud Kiana Madeira for her performance. He also wasn’t impressed with some of the horror sequences, calling them “rushed and unexciting.” Ehrlich said:
There’s so much information to download that major character deaths are shrugged off, key relationships fail to connect, and whatever sense of intrigue the killers bring with them is punted down the line.
Kristy Puchko from IGN applauded the slasher film for avoiding the stereotypical horror movie characters and including “authentic” characters that viewers will actually care about. Though she does point out that the plot includes a little too much exposition, she enjoyed that the writing keeps you hooked and that Janiak certainly didn’t pull any punches with the blood and gore. Puchko said:
Janiak delivers top-notch horror that relishes teen angst, terror, and the unadulterated thrills of Fear Street. And this is just the start…